GaymerX2 Panel Report: Defying Artistic Convention in Games
By Marcus Estrada
Panelists: Cherry Cupid, Liz Ryerson, Loren Schmidt
[dropcap]I[/dropcap]f you have played games for at least a little bit of time then one thing should be immediately apparent. It seems that big developers continue to pursue realistic visuals to pump onto newer consoles and graphics cards. Many gamers love this, of course, as evidenced by the incredible voracity for new stuff that PC gamers showcase, as well as the constant urge for newer and greater video game consoles. But are increasingly realistic games the only thing we should chase? Why is there often such a lack of artistic expression in these games? It leads to a mass of titles with dark, gritty palettes that are almost visually interchangeable with one another.
The argument posed from this panel was not that no one should pursue graphical excellence. Instead, it was that artists creating games should seek to create what they want rather than simply chasing what marketers believe games must be. The panelists acquiesced that artists in big development studios often are simply cogs in the wheel. Given no choice, they do what they must to fulfill the vision of someone else to the best of their ability.
If you’re a developer who wants to create a game with a strong aesthetic then simply go for it! Even indies often seem to fall upon certain eras of pixel art. Mobile developers often create similarly “plastic” and cutesy art with bright color palettes. Artistic tropes are safe but don’t feel afraid to stray beyond them. After all, there are zillions of pixel platformers and clicky cartoony mobile titles. Those who can create a totally unique look will stand out just by being themselves. People still talk about games like Shadow of the Colossus, Okami, The Neverhood, and others in part because they drew an audience by being visually unique. That they then offered awesome gameplay cemented their status as important games.
What if you’re not a game designer already? There’s still room for more in the world! Getting into the industry “proper” is indeed difficult, but simply creating games is something many of us can do. There are an increasing amount of tools out there for non-coders in particular! Free programs name-dropped include the likes of Become a Great Artist in Just 10 Seconds and Twine. The former is primarily for creating pieces of artwork, but there’s no rules to stop you from repurposing these generated masterpieces into a game. Twine itself is programming-free (unless you choose to mess with HTML) and a starting point I’d recommend to create your first interactive fiction/text adventure/visual novel/etc.
I enjoyed the panelists pushing game players to become creators. Over the past few years so many great new names have sprung up in the indie scene. Although I’m sure they would be too modest to admit it, I feel like many of the panelists at GaymerX2 are a big part of this influx. Just be sure that when you create you do exactly what you want. If that’s to make a 2D pixelated adventure reminiscent of your favorite SNES games then go for it! But if you are afraid that your idea is too weird, ugly, or unusual – don’t be! There’s always room for more creativity in gaming.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/marcus.jpg” ]Marcus is a fellow with a love for video games, horror, and Japanese food. When he’s not writing about games for a multitude of sites, he’s usually still playing one. One day when he became fed up with the way sites would ignore niche titles he decided to start his own site by the name of Pixel Pacas. Writing about video games is something he hopes to continue doing for many years to come. Some of Marcus’s favorite games include Silent Hill 2, Killer7, and The Sims. [/author]